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With Philippe Paradis, What's Next for the Hurricanes?

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davetherave

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After getting no respect from most experts and fans--except their own--the Carolina Hurricanes were the Cinderella Team of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Only the 2008 Cup Finalist Penguins stopped the Canes from another shot at the silverware they'd won just three seasons ago...previous to the Wings and Ducks.

So what happens next?

The Raleigh News & Observer takes a look at the last series and what might happen in the off-season, including who stays and who might move on:

Tough calls face Canes

Raleigh News & Observer/BY LUKE DEC0CK, May 29, 2009

RALEIGH - Bill Cowher chose to ally himself with the Carolina Hurricanes over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that's one victory the Hurricanes can claim thisseries.
Cowher -- whose roots in Pennsylvania and the Triangle left him to choose between divided loyalties -- was the official "Siren Sounder" before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday, and he will be the last to crank the siren for some months now.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will take their act to the Stanley Cup finals after sweeping the Hurricanes out of the playoffs 4-1 Tuesday, although the rest of the Penguins, it should be said, weren't too bad either.

The Hurricanes started brightly, with Eric Staal scoring 96 seconds into the game, and waited for that next break, the break that always seemed to find them in the first two rounds.

"It never came," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said.

Instead, a Maxime Talbot shot deflected off Anton Babchuk's stick and fluttered just over Cam Ward's outstretched glove to make it 2-1 late in the first period, and the Canes never recovered.

So the sweep leaves a sour taste, particularly with CraigAdams putting it away, but it can't dull the luster of a postseason that does the Canes credit.

Even making the playoffs was a remarkable achievement for a team that played so poorly in the first two months of the season it got a Stanley Cup-winning coach fired and was left for dead in January. The Hurricanes can't see that right now, but they will.

"That's going to take some time," Staal said. "This hurts. It doesn't feel good, especially being swept in the third round. That's never nice. It just doesn't feel nice right now."

Now, there are difficult decisions to make. Some, like the contract negotiations involving Erik Cole and Jussi Jokinen, are far more complex than they were two months ago. With $40 million allocated to 15 players, the Hurricanes have few options.

Going into the playoffs, it looked like the Hurricanes would try to re-sign Cole, Tuomo Ruutu and Babchuk and allow Chad LaRose and Dennis Seidenberg to leave.

Now, no one would hold it against the Hurricanes if they decided the money pigeonholed for Cole, who has now gone 31 playoff games without a goal, was better spent keepingLaRose and Jokinen. (Ruutu remains a no-brainer.)

Deciding what to do about a player after a poor postseason is better than no postseason at all.

And then there's the issue of who coaches this team next season, Maurice or Ron Francis.

The past two years, the Canes never gave themselves a chance to make this stand. Their inability to get their act together in 2007 and inability to close the deal in 2008 left those seasons unfinished. This year, even though it ended in a sweep, the Canes put up a fight.

They fought their way up the standings not just to make the playoffs, but to win a pair of Game 7s on the road and make it to the conference finals for the third time in seven seasons, one of only three teams able to make that claim.

The Canes had neither the energy nor the emotion to keep up with the Penguins, although they were closer than the aggregate 20-9 score would indicate.

"I don't think we had a lot left in the tank, to be honest with you," Maurice said. "We had gone to the well a lot of times. We'd spent a lot to get here and earned the right to be here."

They were swept by the Penguins, and that is what everyone will remember.

There aren't a whole lot of gray areas in the playoffs. One team advances, another does not, and theneveryone shakes hands.

It will be a while before the sting of those handshakes wears off, but when it does, the Hurricanes will be able to look back and say they gave everything they had.

If in the end it wasn't enough, there was no shame in that.

---

Your thoughts?



Last edited by davetherave on Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:40 pm; edited 2 times in total

Cap'n Clutch

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The Canes over-achieved this year for sure. Nothing to be ashamed of IMO. I think they need to keep that in mind when making decisions on their roster. They still need more than a few tweeks in order to be legitimate contenders again next season.

They made the mistake of keeping the 2006 champ team mostly intact and didn't make solid evaluations of the players. They expected over-achieving players to continue at that level and in some cases to improve at a level that they weren't capable of doing. It's a trap that is hard to avoid.


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SeawaySensFan

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They are just a few players away from being much better. I don't see big changes.

wprager

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They overachieved, perhaps, but to call them a Cinderella team? Really? Boston had been showing signs of issues heading to the post-season. New Jersey, even more so.

They have depth issues at forward (and Brind'Amour isn't getting younger) and both depth *and* breadth issues on D. Their goalie is set and the Storm Squad is smokin' but, beyond that, they've got a lot of work to do this summer.

PTFlea

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Well, obviously no shame in what happened. They played well and they played as a team.

I'm actually curious what they can do to improve. They need to start thinking about getting a superstar up front with Staal - or a superstar, elite defender on the back end. Cam Ward proved a lot this post-season, he's definitely for real (although, his performance in this series was average to tepid).

I think if status quo is kept up front (assuming they can re-sign Cole, Jokinen and Ruutu), the next push needs to come on the backend. If anyone needs J-Bo, it's the Canes. If they can vie for his services and actually get him, then they can jettison Pitkanen or Corvo - both of whom I thought were very good until this 3rd round.

I'd look at bolstering the D if I were them. I don't see what else they can do.

SensFan71


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They should definitely keep the Storm Squad, plus that Staal character and the fella between the pipes.

davetherave

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The latest from Raleigh, via the News & Observer:

Canes start next task

A new deal for coach Paul Maurice and contacts for free agents rank high on the agenda as the team starts work for next season.

CHIP ALEXANDER/NEWS & OBSERVER, MAY 28 2009

RALEIGH - Less than a day after one season ended, the Carolina Hurricanes already were looking ahead to the next.

General manager Jim Rutherford began conducting exit interviews Wednesday with players at the RBC Center, and coach Paul Maurice was gearing up to do the same.

The stinging disappointment that followed getting swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL's Eastern Conference finals was still fresh, still painful. But for Rutherford, Maurice and others in the organization, there's not much time to rest.
Though it appears almost certain Maurice will be offered a new contract to return as coach, Rutherford said Wednesday a decision and an announcement may not come for another week to 10 days. Rutherford said he would meet next week with team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. to discuss financial issues, Maurice's situation, the NHL salary cap and next season's budget.

"Paul and the whole coaching staff did a very good job in helping us recover from an average start to having a very good second half to getting to the conference finals," Rutherford said. "Paul did an extremely good job, did everything he was asked to do."

It was quite a homecoming for Maurice, who coached the Canes when they relocated to Raleigh from Hartford, Conn., in May 1997 and led them to the 2002 Stanley Cup finals. Fired in December 2003, Maurice coached the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

The Maple Leafs fired Maurice after last season and was brought back by Rutherford in early December after the firing of Peter Laviolette, who coached the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cup. With a strong stretch run under Maurice, the Canes reached the playoffs for the first time since winning the Cup, and the franchise finished in the black financially by advancing to the conference finals.

"We had a lot of good things happen at a time when we needed them to -- returning to the playoffs for the first time in a while, and in some tough economic times," Rutherford said.

Maurice said Wednesday that he does wish to return as coach, but he emphasized he is in no rush to get a new contract squared away.

"I want Jim [Rutherford] to do his overview and go through his process," Maurice said. "I want him to take his time, not just with me but with the whole coaching staff."

Maurice, who said he is being paid by the Maple Leafs until June 30, noted he also needed some time to digest the past season.

"A lot changed for me and my family in the last 12 months," he said.

Rutherford said the Canes' budget for players' salaries was roughly $49 million this past season, well below the NHL's $56.7 million salary cap. Some tough contract decisions will need to be made for next season.

Forwards Chad LaRose, Erik Cole, Ryan Bayda, and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg are unrestricted free agents. Forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen and defenseman Anton Babchuk are restricted free agents.

LaRose, who had a one-year contract that paid him $875,000, is in line for a sizable increase after scoring a career-high 19 goals in a regular season that he followed with strong, energetic play in the playoffs. Cole, paid $4 million this season, probably will be offered less.

"The free agents we have are guys we like and we want on our team," Rutherford said. "But we have to see what the economics are."

Rutherford added that in making his financial projections, he also has to look beyond next season. Goaltender Cam Ward becomes a restricted free agent after the 2009-10 season, and next year's unrestricted free agents will include forwards Matt Cullen, Ray Whitney and Scott Walker and defensemen Joe Corvo and Niclas Wallin.

"I don't think the cap will drop that much for next season, but it may take a bigger hit the following season," Rutherford said. "That's something I need to be conscious of in looking at long-term contracts."

The Hurricanes also must prepare their wish list for the NHL entry draft, scheduled for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Rutherford said the team will have the 27th pick in the first round and will go into the draft looking to add some size, whether on defense or at forward.

None of the team's current players faces the kind of postseason surgery that will result in extensive rehabilitation, Maurice said. However, several players fought through ailments late in the season and the playoffs, he said.

In looking back at the playoff run, Maurice said one memory will remain indelible: Walker's overtime goal that won Game 7 against the top-seeded Boston Bruins in the conference semifinals. Earlier in the series, Walker had emerged as Boston fans' Public Enemy No. 1 after punching Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward in the face in Game 5.

What no one outside Carolina's locker room knew at the time also was that Walker's wife, Julie, had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. Walker's teammates and coaches were his support system. It was an emotional time for everyone.

"His goal might be the most enjoyable moment I've ever had in sports," Maurice said. "To know what he was going through, to see his reaction and his teammates' reactions to him scoring ...

"It wasn't just that we had won the series. It was more 'Scott Walker just scored a goal to win the series!'

"It was just right."

Rutherford is hoping for another deep playoff run next season, saying it's a matter of keeping the team together and staying healthy once they reach the playoffs.

"I think the nucleus and the core that we have can win the Cup again," he said.

chip.alexander@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8945

davetherave

davetherave
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Interesting situation in Carolina...Rutherford has $42MM committed, so in principle he has room to bring in a quality UFA.

Given that the Canes are once again a legitimate contender, could a key signing and/or trade get them back to the Final Four again next year?

So does Raleigh, an extremely attractive place to live with a hockey fanbase that absolutely adores its team, become equally attractive for a top drawer Free Agent?

Stay tuned.

Guest


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It's hard not to say "Booking tee tmes at the local golf courses" on this one ...

davetherave

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Yahoo Sports provides an updated look at the Canes as the UFA and draft seasons approach:

Inside Shots: Carolina Hurricanes Team Report

The Hurricanes built their late season surge around a conscientious defense, something that was missing in the Eastern Conference final against Pittsburgh.

That aside, the Hurricanes believe they’ve established many of those principles on defense that should carry into the future.

By advancing to the conference finals, they shored up some financial aspects of the organization, and that might help them regarding personnel decisions during the offseason.

“I think the nucleus and the core that we have can win the Cup again,” general manager Jim Rutherford said.

They might be in the market for another defenseman who’s committed to the defensive end because
Tim Gleason is the only one on the roster who clearly represents that, and he was vulnerable during the last series of the playoffs. That’s not to say they’re disappointed with the offerings from Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo.

Offensively, the Hurricanes had four lines capable of producing by season’s end, a luxury that evolved after the additions of forwards
Jussi Jokinen and Erik Cole from in-season trades. Keeping center Matt Cullen healthy would be a boost as well.

Still, they could use another consistent scorer to complement center
Eric Staal and left wing Ray Whitney.

A better start to next season could eliminate many of the wrinkles that developed from having a coaching change during the season. Paul Maurice is in line to remain as coach, and he’ll have some expectations to live up to after the encouraging playoff run.

The Hurricanes are still relatively young at key positions, including Staal and goalie
Cam Ward.

Season Highlight: Two road victories in Games 7s are what will be remembered about this postseason, winning at New Jersey with a comeback of two goals in the last 80 seconds and then eliminating top-seeded Boston in overtime. The Hurricanes displayed a type of relentlessness that ended up defining the team with several late game dramatics in the postseason.

Turning Point: It would be easy to designate the coach change from Peter Laviolette to Paul Maurice as the biggest moment in the season. But the team’s upward movement began in earnest after the early March trade that brought left wing Erik Cole back to the team. Cole had been dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in the summer of 2008. Cole’s individual output was modest, particularly by the end of the regular season, but when he rejoined the team it coincided with the expanded production of center Eric Staal. The immediate impact put the Hurricanes on a roll as Staal was the primary force behind the surge when he was reunited with his former linemate.

Notes, Quotes

C Eric Staal further emerged as the team’s leader during the latter part of the season. He was even referred to as the leader several times by coach Paul Maurice, leading one to speculate whether Staal’s rise to captaincy might not be too far away.

“I thought he was great,” Maurice said. “He really settled into his game as a leader.”

In the 2009-10 season, Staal begins a seven-year contract extension that was agreed upon in September 2008. That will pay him an average of $8.25 million per year.

Staal scored a team-high 10 goals in the team’s 18 playoff games, but only one of those came in the four-game Eastern Conference final.

Hockey teams are known for creating tight bonds, but right wing
Scott Walker said the Hurricanes developed something that seemed to go beyond that during the 2008-09 season.

“One of the closest teams I’ve ever been on,” Walker said.

That could have been a by-product of a coaching change bringing the players together. And general manager Jim Rutherford has received his dose of praise for finding the right mixture of needed parts when he brought back left wing Erik Cole and added forward Jussi Jokinen to the roster with trades.

Quote To Note: “There are no flukes in a seven-game series. They deserved to win.”—Coach Paul Maurice after the Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Hurricanes in four games in the Eastern Conference final. The Hurricanes won two seven-game series in Game 7s to reach the conference finals for the third time in the last three years in which they’ve reached the postseason.

Roster Report

Most Valuable Player: Goalie Cam Ward was the backbone of the team, particularly in the latter half of the season. His steady play allowed the team to make it through the adjustments necessary with a new style implemented after an in-season coaching change. His durability hadn’t been in question in the past, but it got to the point when there was no question that Ward would be in the net down the stretch of the regular season. Again, he backed up the organization’s commitment to him as the team’s goalie of the present and future.

Most Disappointing Player: Captain
Rod Brind’Amour never got it going at the rate that he’s accustomed to, and this could be the start of the decline of his career. He has been so steady in so many areas that when holes in his game developed it was difficult for the team to accept, though he eventually dropped to a fourth-line center role. His plus/minus rating was one of the worst in the league by midseason. However, he racked up 51 points to match his 2007-08 total, and he led the NHL in faceoff percentage (61 percent) during the regular season.

Free Agent Focus: The Hurricanes could have some tough decisions regarding forward
Chad LaRose, who once was a fourth-line pest and has evolved into a steady contributor on offense. He could be in line for a big raise elsewhere if the Hurricanes don’t make a sincere push to keep him.

It would be difficult to allow left wing Jussi Jokinen to get away after his big postseason. Left wing Erik Cole’s impact waned when his postseason production was nearly nonexistent, so a decision on him might not be as easy as it once appeared although he’s a popular figure among the fan base.

Right wing
Tuomo Ruutu is a good fit for the organization, but his demands are unknown.

The front office will have to determine how defensemen
Anton Babchuk and Dennis Seidenberg, though Babchuk’s youth might warrant trying to keep him on board as he continues to develop.

Ryan Bayda has been a good role player, but he’s expendable as a fourth-line player and an unrestricted free agent.

Player News:

RW Tuomo Ruutu hadn’t missed a game since October before sitting out two games in the Eastern Conference final. His absence was noticeable, particularly because his play gave the team a rough edge to it. He ranked 10th in the NHL in hits during the regular season. But against Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference final, he played less than 11 total minutes because of the injury, and it’s safe to say that the Hurricanes didn’t have anyone stepping into that role.

C Rod Brind’Amour will turn 39 before next season begins, and he has given every indication that he’ll be more motivated for a turnaround after what was a rather mundane season for him. His conditioning remains a strength as he logged almost 19 minutes per game during the regular season. But he was minus-4 in the Eastern Conference final. In 18 postseason games, he was in plus territory only twice.

D
Frantisek Kaberle has been on the trade market, and the Hurricanes could make another push to see if there are any takers during the offseason. He hasn’t returned to form since the 2006 Stanley Cup championship, and his role wavers on what seems like a weekly basis. The Hurricanes used him in place of D Anton Babchuk at times in the postseason, hoping to gain something from his experience. But the Hurricanes went 2-5 in games in which Kaberle played in the playoffs, and he wasn’t in the lineup for the last game against Pittsburgh.

Medical Watch:

LW Ray Whitney had a broken finger that wasn’t revealed until after the season. He played through it, but it will need attention.

RW Tuomo Ruutu played in only one of the last three games because of an ankle injury. He probably shouldn’t have been back in the lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final based on his limited impact in that game and the fact that he wasn’t on the ice for the season-ending Game 4. This ailment should be taken care of with the normal rest of the offseason.

davetherave

davetherave
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EJ Hradek and Richard Pollock try to see which way the winds are blowing in Raleigh.

FORWARD COULD HELP POWER CANES
Flyers free agent could provide answer
EJ Hradek, Richard Pollock, ESPN.com, June 17, 2009

Plugging Holes - Carolina Hurricanes

With Philippe Paradis, What's Next for the Hurricanes? Car
The Hole: Power wing

The Hurricanes certainly exceeded expectations in 2008-09 with a run all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. However, even with so much success, the team has specific areas that need improvement -- mainly, a big-scoring winger. The Hurricanes' forwards registered a minus-3.3 GVT (
Goals Versus Threshold) last season at even strength -- that was fifth-worst in the Eastern Conference. Even if Erik Cole does re-sign in Carolina this summer (as expected), the team could still use some size and scoring on the wings.

The Fix: Sign F Mike Knuble (UFA, Flyers)


While the Flyers would probably like to re-sign Mike Knuble, the team's salary situation ($53 million invested already in next season's cap hit) leaves little room to invest any more money in its forwards. This cap trouble should allow for the Hurricanes to jump in and sign the 35-year-old winger. Last season, Knuble registered 27 goals (11 on the power play) and 20 assists in 82 games played. In fact, Knuble has played 82 games in three of his past four seasons. The veteran winger can play at even-strength, on the power play and kill penalties. For a team that had only one natural winger (Ray Whitney) with a GVT above 5.1, Knuble's 2008/09 GVT of 7.4 should fit in quite well.

E.J.'s Take: I think Knuble would be a nice addition for the Hurricanes. He's a dependable veteran who has averaged 28 goals per season during his four years in Philly. You'd want to add him on a short-term deal. Due to CBA rules regarding contracts signed by players 35 years or older, I figure you don't want to go more than two years in term. Remember, Knuble will turn 37 on July 4.
There is a problem, though. I believe there will be several clubs competing for his services. That could push his price to a higher level than the Canes might want to pay. In the end, it might come down to whether or not he'd be interested in moving to Raleigh. I think it's a viable option, but I have a feeling he'll end up elsewhere.

Another choice might be Rangers free-agent forward
Nik Antropov (though he is in demand by the Prospectus crew elsewhere in this division). Hurricanes bench boss Paul Maurice coached Antropov in Toronto. If Maurice has good memories of the hulking forward, the coach might suggest the club make a pitch for Antropov's services.

Richard Pollock is a writer for Puck Prospectus. E.J. Hradek is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

Note: A mainstay of Puck Prospectus's metrics is "Goals Versus Threshold" (GVT). The stat blends an array of offensive and defensive figures to measure the value, in terms of goals, a player contributes above what the marginal player would over the course of the season. A marginal player is one that could be replaced with a player of equivalent skill, e.g. from the minors. For instance, Evgeni Malkin had an offensive GVT of +18.9, a defensive GVT of +4.5 and a total GVT of +23.4 for the 2008-9 regular season, meaning that Malkin was worth 23.4 goals more than a marginal player over the course of the season, or worth about 0.3 additional goals per game. In the team context, GVT refers to performance above an NHL average team. For the regular season, the Detroit Red Wings had a +30.8 offensive GVT, a +15.1 defensive GVT, a -21.5 goaltending GVT, for a +24.4 total GVT. Therefore, at even strength, Detroit was 24.4 goals better than the average team.

davetherave

davetherave
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Ron Francis announced the selection of this Quebec-born player...6'2", 195...

http://www.lhjmq.qc.ca/lang_en/index.php?page=2147483647&id_register=10300

Hockeyhero22000

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as per tsn.caThe Carolina Hurricanes have signed forward Jussi Jokinen to a two-year, $3.4-million contract extension.
Acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay last season, Jokinen had one goal
and 11 points in 25 regular season games with the Hurricanes before
scoring seven goals and 11 points in 18 playoff games.

"Jussi was a good addition to our team last season, and he really
stepped into his role in the playoffs," said Hurricanes GM Jim
Rutherford. "His ability to contribute on the power play and penalty
kill, and his versatility at different forward positions makes him a
valuable player."

The 26-year-old, who can play both wing and centre, has 54 goals, 118 assists and 172 points in 306 career NHL games.
Jokinen will make $1.5-million next season and $1.9-million in 2010-2011.
nice for him he was very good in the playoffs for the canes this year had some clutch goals and irritated brodeur very well

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